Boucher Con meetings

Eighteen months ago, I looked at the 2007 calendar and realized that I was not going to be published that year, for the first time since 1993. The mystery world tends to work on a yearly basis, with publishers happiest when they can schedule a regular offering from their authors. Not having a book out and a tour planned creates a hole in the minds of the booksellers, and the readers.

So I thought that, since I wasn’t going to be on the road in person, I could at least show my face online more than I was. And that meant it would be time for a project I’d been thinking about for a while: an online book club.

Some years before, I’d done a guest shot at the online forum called Readerville, in their Young Adult thread, for Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I tracked down the woman who had invited me and nurtured me during the discussion, and asked if she would be interested in starting up a readers’ forum on the LRK web site. Vicki jumped at the chance, and a few months later we opened with our discussions, which have now worked their way up to Keeping Watch.

Now, I go to BoucherCon pretty much every year, but this was the first time I had a visible contingent of Loyal Readers, complete with t-shirts, buttons, and a sense of enthusiastic community. They appeared at panels I was on, even those at ungodly hours. They held dinners—not one, but two of them, and not only invited me, but were gracious about permitting me to race off before the dessert (and the bill) had arrived. They gave me presents, and not weird things that end up at Goodwill, either, lovely and carefully thought out presents. They enjoyed each others’ company, they welcomed me and talked me up to others, and they even hired a van and trekked across the city to join in the library event I was moderating.

None of this would have happened without Vicki’s energy and creativity. The necklace I brought her from Yorkshire (where a body will be found, in Language of Bees,) a silver spiderweb with a piece of Whitby jet in the middle, symbolizes what she has done here. Last week, she brought together Alice (Strawberry Curls) and KarenB and Merrily (Patches) and (Laidee) Marjorie and Meredith (with guests Kay and Chris) and Roxanne and Bill (wsmvgn) and Mary (Mod.) and Frances and Lizanne and Abigail (Parcourir) and Margaret (solocyc64) and Breda (Bredae) (Have I missed anyone?), who came to the various events in Baltimore, as well as all the rest of the Friends of Laurie who followed the events online.

Here’s to Vicki, who brought us all together.

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  1. Laurie King on October 16, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I hope this post doesn’t give the impression that I never saw any Friends of Laurie at earlier BoucherCons, or indeed elsewhere. I am very aware of “my” loyal readers who have been showing up regularly for years, and meeting online for discussions, and I am grateful to you all for your enthusiasm. But what Vicki has done is begin to bring together the online communities, with off-line effects, a thing that I could not do.

    I just wanted to say thanks, Vicki, for your work.

  2. LaideeMarjorie on October 16, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Laurie, I guess this is as good a place as any to continue my B’con thoughts. It was special, wasn’t it? And those good feelings started with you and Vicki and trickled on down to the rest of us (especially when you both agreed to attend both dinner events). Extraordinary.

    The thing that I did not get to talk to you about at B’con was…”Tropic Thunder”! What I mean by that is when you blogged about the movie and you seemed to be a bit hesitant to share with us that you liked what is clearly a very dark comedy full of adult language and gore-filled violence with outlandish performances. (I did see it and enjoy, by the way, and I often see those Judd Apatow movies. I can be high-brow or low-brow, really I can. Anyway, I hoped that you didn’t think of us as being sticks-in-the-mud or prudish or, worst of all, dull. I think I can at least talk about the members from Letters and Mary and tell you that we are capable of being as open-minded, earthy and mischievous as anyone.

    I have to share with everyone though, that I must have come across as just that “square” when I told Laurie with all the sincerity that I could muster (at the Saturday night dinner) that finding her work was great because it not only brought me her writing, but it brought me to the Letters of Mary group and back to doing some writing of my own, something that I have longed to do for a long time. I thanked her, although I felt very intimidated sitting next to her, someone that I admire and respect so much. After I completed my little speech, she looked at me and said “So, I helped you get off your ass!” Yes, Laurie, that is what you have done for me and you put it in the simplest of ways. I thank you, my ass thanks you. And the next time I see you, I will try to be a bit less intimidated and bit more, well, me.


  3. Love Bug on October 16, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Dear Laurie,

    I completely agree with you about Vicki! Every time I saw her last weekend she was either running somewhere she needed to be or actively blogging to the website, and doing it all with grace and good humor. She’s truly a dynamo and we are all very fortunate to have her!

    And ditto what Marjorie said about our being open-minded, earthy and mischievious. We were just on our best suitable-for-public-consumption behavior, that’s all. We can get pretty rowdy when certain subjects, such as how hot we think Jeremy Brett was, come up. Those discussions are NOT for the shy or easily embarrassed. Heh.

    – Mary the Mod 😀

  4. Merrily45 on October 16, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Laurie and Vicki,
    While I know the Internet has its dark side, I can’t say enough for the capacity of this technology to bring like-minded people together. Letters of Mary and the VBC have provided a friendly, welcoming place for those of us who love your books, but in addition these sites have introduced us to one another, and we’ve found that a love for the Russell series in particular is only one of the many common things we share. I really feel that I have made some wonderful new friends through these sites, and so I have to thank you (and Holmes and Russell of course) for bringing us together.
    And I share Laidee Marjorie’s gratitude for this interest having started me writing again. Until my interest in Holmes and Russell inspired me, I hadn’t written a word of fiction in 30 years, although I loved to write stories in my youth. Memos, yes, proposals yes, thousands of letters, professional articles, yes, but fiction…no. So I thank you for the resurrection of an avocation that has given me great pleasure and relief from stress!
    I’m so glad that we could show your colors at Bouchercon, Laurie, we intend to make a habit of it! Merrily

  5. Roxanne on October 16, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Three cheers for Vicki, the greatest Web Maven ever!

    I am so glad that I got to meet Vicki in RL at BoucherCon. The VBC environment she has created is a great gift. Thank you, Vicki, for the talent and enthusiasm and energy that you bring to our online community.

    Thank you, Laurie, for asking Vicki to start up a readers’ forum on your web site. And thank you, Vicki, for accepting.


  6. bredae on October 16, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Vicki is one of the nicest, generous people I have ever met, and really seems to enjoy the effects of all she does around here. I love the comfortable and easygoing enviroment that Laurie and Vicki have created in this online community. It is so wonderful to feel included, and so much fun to be able to talk to “my” kind of acronym spouting people (as opposed to my husband’s people, full of military acronyms.)
    So thank you Laurie, and thank you Vicki, for being so encouraging.

  7. Strawberry Curls on October 16, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I can only agree with all that has been said before. Vicki has encouraged, nurtured and then stepped back, and allowed the wonderful environment that she created keep the VBC a warm and welcoming place to be. She has been so generous in allowing me to mention Letters of Mary and even post a link to the site on the VBC. This has made for a huge crossover of VBC members and members of Letters of Mary. All of us joining to be one great big force at B’Con seemed the natural extension of all this and really worked out well. By Sunday I had people seeking me out for information as one of those Mary Russell fan ladies. Being 5′ 10″ and a redhead helped people to pick me out.

    When I think back over B’Con, joy is what comes to mind. Joy at being in the presence of such great friends (new and old), joy at being in a location where the written word was important, joy at walking into the book room (which I have equated to Nirvana for a mystery reader) and the joy of spending time with someone we all admire. Thank you, Vicki and Laurie, for agreeing to come to the LOM dinner on Thursday evening. It was a dream come true for all of us, and then to have another dinner on Sat. was icing on the lovely, lovely cake.

    Indianapolis is already on my calendar, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.


  8. LaideeMarjorie on October 16, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Damn. I forgot to ask….Laurie, we want to know exactly how you take your coffee. Black? With cream? Sugar? Splenda? (Not decaf…) If you tell us now, we will make sure you are covered in the future. LOL.

    –Marjorie (who still wishes there was an edit feature on the blog so that I could clean up my many typos.)

  9. KarenB on October 16, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Next time it’s early morning and I’m sitting there waiting for pearls to drop from your lips, please send me out for coffee first! I so needed a cup and would have loved the excuse. It was a wonderful time and Vicki deserves more credit than I can express for all that she has done for us and for the larger community of readers. Together you make a fabulous team! Thank you both for all you have done to entertain, enlighten and educate us.

  10. Lizanne on October 16, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Vicki is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. That, combined with her computer skills, makes us lucky to have her with us. I had no idea what to expect last weekend, never having been to Bouchercon and never having met any one of the gang, but we melded into a family of sorts and found multiple common interests apart from Holmes and Russell and Laurie’s books. How amazing is that?

    Laurie, I hope we didn’t alarm you with our fervor over you or Jeremy Brett or House! If you hadn’t noticed we are women with opinions and we like to express them!
    Thank you for mentioning each of us by name. It made my day.


  11. Millie on October 16, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Although I wasn’t at Bouchercon (sob, sob) I want to join the chorus of *Vicki-thankers*. The VBC has been my lifeline as I dived back into the world of full-time parenting. I still can’t quite believe how open and helpful Vicki was when I approached her about an issue in my RL (all going well, thanks Vicki), and like everyone else, I feel grateful for the sense of friendship and community she and Laurie have created.

  12. Chris on October 17, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Well, I didn’t get to Baltimore and won’t manage 2009 Bouchercon, either, but I think I will be in San Francisco for 2010. I wonder how a 44-year-old male british reader/fan will get on with all the amazing ladies from the VBC who managed to go Baltimore!

    And yes, BIG thanks too to Vicki, who so kindly arranged the Edinburgh ‘meet’ in June, when I was unable to attend the official event, and to yourself for taking time out of a hectic schedule to meet with me.

    Much appreciation goes to you both!


  13. KarenB on October 17, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Well, Chris, considering how we feel about men with British accents, you’d be foolish not to come! 😀

  14. vicki on October 17, 2008 at 8:31 am

    *Blushing* Wow–thanks to Laurie and everyone else for all the kind words! I’ve had so much fun doing this, it almost feels like cheating to get such lavish praise for it. But I knew it would be fun because Laurie’s books are magnets for people who are smart, curious, nice and generally terrific. The group in Baltimore reflected those qualities, as well as an uncanny kind of connectedness and synchronicity that shows how special books can tap into something deep inside and draw people together.

    After several decades of reading in relative isolation, I’m profoundly glad to exist in a time when technology can help foster a sense of readerly connection in spite of distance, circumstance and the other barriers that can keep like minds apart. It’s a privilege to take part in such wonderful developments and to belong to such a fantastic network of readers. Thank you all for being a part of that network and sharing your thoughts and yourselves with us all. And thank you Laurie for giving us such wonderful stories and characters to gather around–may there be many more in the years to come!

  15. Strawberry Curls on October 17, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    “I wonder how a 44-year-old male british reader/fan will get on with all the amazing ladies from the VBC who managed to go Baltimore!”

    As Karen said, we really like British accents, and anyone who is a fan of Laurie’s books. There was a man at the two dinners in Baltimore, **waves to Bill** and he seemed to enjoy our company, and since he is a fan of all things Russell, was total comfortable with our diverse group of ladies.

    See you in San Francisco 2010.


  16. parcourir on October 17, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Cheers for Vicki indeed. It wouldn’t have been the same – or wouldn’t have been, full stop! – without her.

  17. Bachi on October 20, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Yea Vicki!

  18. Carlina on October 21, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Vicki I owe you a stout if I make it to Indy :)!

    One publication is almost down and on the way to being submitted….2 more left.

    Glad you all got to meet and greet Laurie and this community really would not be what it is if it wasn’t for the efforts of Vicki, who has worked hard on screen and behind the scenes to spread the honey goodness of this place. Cheers to Vicki!

    Indy 2009, hopefully. I know just the pub in Bloomington too after visiting Lilly. It’s called The Irish Lion. I’d paste the link, but the machines may have at me…

  19. ladonna on October 22, 2008 at 8:49 am

    I’m not afraid of the machines (she said knowing that there is a software upgrade scheduled for this afternoon) and I *love* the Irish Lion (and besides, pub crawling in Bloomington is what got me through the final $ummer of library $chool — I don’t drink so I was the designated driver and got my beverages free!! And the Irish Lion was the ONLY place a body could get a decent cuppa!)

  20. Meredith T on October 28, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Rawther late (as often happens) but heartfelt sentiments just the same. Vicki is wonderful! Vicki rocks! and frankly, so did the rest of the BCon experience. I am looking forward to meeting the rest of Friends of Laurie who can get to Indy, not to mention the hordes of people who will appear in SF. Around my patch I am still quoting Vicki (and trying to do the Alabama accent): “these are My People” meaning book people. //Meredith

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